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Valuable Resume and Career Tips

May 17, 2008
The following responses to popular questions are designed to facilitate an effective job search campaign, starting with the resume:

QUESTION: Do I need an objective? I need to do my resume, but I am not sure what kind of job I want. Do I need one? My friend who used to be my supervisor in my old job told me that I do not. Is she right?

ANSWER: There are many opinions on the subject. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Either use the same resume with different objectives on each to show career focus. Or, indicate that you are seeking a position in a certain area, followed by "titles of interest include project manager, field service technician, and crew supervisor."

Many job seekers choose to leave off an objective to avoid limiting themselves to one position. By leaving the decision to an employer, your resume might get tossed. Remember, listing your objective is the courteous thing to do. It saves a hiring manager a lot of time by taking the guesswork out of deciding what you want to do.

Mention what you can do for an employer, not what the employer can do for you. Avoid writing: "Seeking a position utilizing my experience, skills and education offering career growth potential." Instead, write: "Seeking a position in sales or customer service where five years of related experience in pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries will be of value."

QUESTION: How do I put my resume on the Internet?

ANSWER: Many companies and job banks require that you fill out an on-line form or paste an ASCII version of your resume. Few will accept an email attachment. Copy and paste your resume into the "Paste Here" box on most job search sites or send an attachment if it is an option. In either case, you will need to set up an account providing a user name and password.

QUESTION: How do I create a plain text resume?

ANSWER: Many companies and job banks require a plain text or ASCII resume. This format is void of all formatting. But, there are lots of tricks to jazz it up.

Perform the Save As function to convert your formatted resume to a text file. You will be prompted that your resume will lose all formatting. Choose OK. You will now have a plain text version of your resume. You must rearrange the information if it becomes disorganized.

QUESTION: Should I bring my cover letter to the interview?
ANSWER: Do not bring your cover letter. Its purpose is to introduce you in your absence, communicate your interest in a position or company, highlight your experience, explain your situation, and request an interview.

However, do bring prints of your resume to the interview. Before the interview begins, announce, "Here are prints of my resume. I thought you might want to have them." That way the manager will have a good print to review, and to pass onto other managers, just in case he or she only has a faxed copy. View our cover letter samples and read our confidence-building article on interviewing.

QUESTION: What should I do after the interview?
ANSWER: Send a thank you letter to each person that interviewed you. This should be done within a day or two. Be sure to mention something discussed about your experience and qualifications in relation to the position. Remember, you will most likely be one of several candidates.

Unless they have made a decision to hire you already, you might not be on their mind. If the company does not contact you in more than a week, send a follow up letter to remind them of your interest in the position. These efforts can be especially effective if the hiring decision has not been made yet. It will set you apart from the other candidates who do not follow up. Before you go on your interview, read our confidence-building article on interviewing.

QUESTION: Do I fold or staple the resume and cover letter?
ANSWER: Do not fold, clip, or staple! Unfolding the resume is clumsy, and the information is not viewed 100 percent at a glance. You want your presentation to be received neatly. Place the letter on top, and insert into a flat 9 by 12 white envelope. In the light, you should see the letter through the back of the envelope. When the reader opens the envelope, they won't have to flip it over.
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